Understanding ourselves is the first step to understanding how to do your best work. As adults, we are cognizant of the environment needed for us to be our best: level of ideal structure, types of colleagues who complement us best, independence, clear guidance. We learn this overtime, throughout different professional experiences. But what about our students? How do we help them understand the conditions needed for them to do their best work, and are we providing an environment in which they can thrive as self-aware, curious, inquisitive, self-advocating learners?
Proctor’s faculty recognizes there is a considerable benefit to sustained learning when students remain engaged in academic pursuits during the summer months. Understanding our students also need down time, summer jobs, time with family, and plenty of time to adventure, we limit summer academic expectations to three components each year: summer literacy, summer math review, and AP course/off-campus program specific reading requirements.
The blur of a COVID-19 induced summer quarantine is upon us during these seemingly endless days of summer. We each have settled into our own summer routine: exercise, work, reading, house projects, family time, swimming, sleep, repeat. And while we can hardly complain about the luxury of living in lake-laden rural New Hampshire during one of the hottest and sunniest July’s on record, our annual anticipation of returning to a school-year routine is starting to creep into our existence.
We build connection one relationship at a time, one day at a time, one conversation at a time. Throughout our lives, some of these relationships flourish as we nurture them, while others become overgrown with the weeds of busyness and inattention. Proctor's relationship with the Lakota Sioux on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota is one of those cherished relationships to which we have attended regularly over the last thirty-five years. Our connection grew once again as seven students and two adults (Patty Pond and Peter Logan '95) spent ten days at Rosebud learning, serving, and drinking in the rich culture of our Lakota family. Read reflections from this summer's service trip to Rosebud below.
The forecasted temperature in Andover, New Hampshire tonight is 51 degrees - a far cry from the 93 we hit on Tuesday afternoon. There will be more summer heat to come, but as the calendar turns to August, the start of the school year no longer appears as a blurry destination in the distance, but as a reality toward which we are quickly moving.
Spend an hour during the summer months sitting in one of the hundred green Adirondack chairs sprinkled throughout Proctor’s campus and simply listen. Of course you’ll hear the sounds of birds singing their songs and frogs croaking their own tune from the pond. Listen a bit more closely and you’ll hear the steady sound of hard work: lawn mowing, weed wacking, building, constructing, fixing, and mending. While many of us enjoy a slower pace to summer, our Maintenance Team is operating at full throttle working on campus improvement projects that are unable to take place during the school year.
Spending the 4th of July in Andover, New Hampshire should be a prerequisite to understanding the value of small town living. Our little town of 2,000 people bursts at the seams as thousands of visitors flock to the village green in the heart of Proctor’s campus for a flea market and carnival-like atmosphere. At noon, local elementary students who had perfect attendance this year toll the bell in Maxwell Savage Hall to signal the start of the parade. Local fire companies, floats, and bands weave their way through campus along North Street before looping back down Main Street. The day ends as thousands more people gather on Carr Field to watch fireworks over the Proctor Ski Area.
For teachers, the rhythm of the calendar year is inextricably tied to the cycle of the academic calendar. Boarding school life amplifies those rhythms: when we are on, we are ON, and when we are off, we try to unplug and recharge. As we prepare to turn the calendar to July, we are still in the early phases of recharging, but cannot help but feel the emptiness of campus this time of year.